INDIANAPOLIS (August 20, 2002) - Luis Diaz captured his second career CART Toyota Atlantic victory, Barber CART Scholarship winner Leonardo Maia scored his maiden Barber Dodge Pro Series win and Matt Jaskol scored his first Stars of Tomorrow...
INDIANAPOLIS (August 20, 2002) - Luis Diaz captured his second career CART Toyota Atlantic victory, Barber CART Scholarship winner Leonardo Maia scored his maiden Barber Dodge Pro Series win and Matt Jaskol scored his first Stars of Tomorrow series victory in CART Ladder System action this past weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.
In Atlantic action, a caution-filled yet exciting race saw Diaz pass Rocky Moran Jr. for the lead in Turn 1 with just four laps remaining. In going for the lead, the cars of Diaz and Moran made contact, sending Moran off into the sand trap and out of contention. Diaz would hold the lead on the restart to lead the rest of the way and capture the checkered flag by 1.910 seconds. Diaz's teammates Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finished in second and third place, respectively, completing a Dorricott Racing sweep of the podium. Atlantic point leader Michael Valiante continued his championship push by finishing in fourth place. Joey Hand, in his second race back after injury, finished a strong fifth place.
The race had plenty of wheel-to-wheel action but was slowed significantly by five caution periods for seven laps. Alex Garcia, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Waldemar Coronas, Eduardo Figueroa, Kyle Krisiloff, Rodolfo Lavin and Moran Jr. were all involved in incidents throughout the 17-lap race.
"It was a tight race all the way through," commented Diaz, a resident of Mexico City. "The car was really good throughout the race. I was little worried that I had damaged the car when Rocky and I touched wheels. The team reassured me that the car was fine and after that I just ran on adrenaline.
"This is a great win for my team, my teammates and my sponsor," continued Diaz. "The timing is perfect as many people from Telmex are here this weekend. It is always a good thing to win when your sponsor is there!"
In Pro Series action, Maia, starting from the pole, led every lap and withstood a late race restart challenge from eventual podium mates AJ Allmendinger and Josh Beaulieu to win by 1.249 seconds. Allmendinger, the 2002 Champion who was starting in an unlikely tenth place, moved up quickly and had already secured fifth place by the end of Lap 1. He continued to move up and when he passed Memo Rojas on Lap 5, he secured second place. Beaulieu had perhaps the most exciting day as he started fifth, fell back to ninth place and then worked his way up to challenge Allmendinger for second before settling into the final podium position. Markham, Ontario's Dan Di Leo continued his strong season with a fourth place finish.
The only yellow of the day came when Davy Cook and Memo Rojas, battling for fourth place, came together on the exit of Turn 1, sending Cook into the inside retaining wall and out of the race. Rojas would continue to finish in fifth place, although his car was showing signs of damage from the incident.
"This is an awesome day and I am so excited to have won," said the 21-year old from Oakland, Calif. "I never thought the weekend would end. I worked hard all weekend to keep the momentum going. We were strong in every session and the car felt great in the race. I was little worried when the yellow came out but I got a good jump and kept everyone behind me."
Meanwhile, at the newly opened Briggs & Stratton Karting Complex inside the Carousel Turn at Road America, Jaskol made a daring last lap pass and held on through the final turns to edge out Kyle Martin by 0.378 seconds in the Stars of Tomorrow Pro ICC event. Over the last 10 laps, Jaskol drastically reduced the leader's gap to set up a dive move past Martin in Turn 2 as the pair took the white flag. As Jaskol and Martin battled for the win, it allowed third place Alan Rudolph to join the action and be in position to capitalize on any mistakes by the front runners. Jake Pierson and Chris Festa rounded out the top five.
"During the first part of the race, at best I really thought I had a second place kart," said Jaskol, a resident of Las Vegas. "Kyle had been able to pull out to a large lead. However, I noticed my times were getting better and better as the race went on and I was closing the gap. Once I caught him, there was no doubt in my mind I could make the pass."
The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship continues this weekend with the penultimate 2002 round at the Molson Indy Montreal, August 23rd - 25th.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series puts a cap on its season this weekend with Round 10 at the Molson Indy Montreal, August 23rd - 25th.
The Formula Dodge National Championship returns to action this weekend with Rounds 11 and 12 at Carolina Motorsports Park on August 23rd - 25th.